Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Mama Afrika

Posted by Karen in Politics.
Monday, November 10th, 2008 at 10:09 am


My brother Steve introduced me to the music of Miriam Makeba when I was in high school.  I enjoyed it for a long time before I learned what an important role she and her music had in the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. She was one of the many musicians who made me realize what a powerful force music can be beyond just helping you get through teenage angst, or celebrate being in love, or get over a break-up.  How music can provide a sense of hope, inspire people toward action, and build a sense of community among those who are fighting for justice – how it can affect real change.

Miriam Makeba died today at the age of 76, hours after performing at an anti-mafia concert in Italy. She was doing what she did best to fight for freedom up until the very end, what an amazing life. 








It’s a New Day

Posted by Karen in Politics.
Saturday, November 8th, 2008 at 9:50 am


Posted by Nate in Politics.
Tuesday, November 4th, 2008 at 10:29 pm


Vote Yes on the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment!

Posted by Karen in Politics, Soapbox.
Sunday, November 2nd, 2008 at 11:55 am

Hey Minnesotans – this Tuesday, November 4th you will have the opportunity t20081102095331_vote_yes_logo.gifo vote on the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment.  Dutoeam asks you to consider the following information, and please vote yes on the amendment.

All is not well in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Forty percent of the waters we have tested are polluted, and most of our lakes and streams have not even been tested. Funding for water, parks, and wildlife habitat remains near historic lows, and we are losing access for swimming, fishing, and wildlife watching. We have to act now, with this amendment, to protect our state’s many water sources—-for our own health, and for that of our wildlife, before they are lost forever.

The amendment would increase the State sales tax
by three-eighths of one percent. This amounts to only about $1 a week and $56 a year for the average Minnesota household – a small price to pay for protecting our clean water, wildlife habitat, and natural areas.

While the latest polls show that Minnesotans are strongly supportive of t
he amendment — 59% say they will vote yes — we also know that many people who haven’t heard about the amendment may leave that question blank, and anyone who doesn’t vote on this question gets counted as a "no" vote. As a result, it appears the vote will be VERY close.

This amendment is about protecting our WATER RESOURCES, LAND, AND NATURAL AREAS.
There is tremend
ous growth in Minnesota: over 1 million acres of wooded lands, natural areas and farmland will be lost over the next 25 years, as Minnesota continues growing faster than any other state in the Midwest. We want to make sure that while we grow, we are protecting and preserving our natural areas for recreation, which is so much a part of why we love it here, and protecting our lands for game habitat, wildlife, fishing, hunting, and hiking. The amendment will also help to fight global warming by protecting forest lands in Minnesota.

This amendment is about preserving our CULTURAL RESOURCES.
Minnesota has a long and proud tradition and history of arts and culture. A
20081102100321_spoon_bridge.jpgrts and cultural education are critical not only to our children’s future but also to our state’s economic well-being. Like our natural resources, our states cultural resources are an important part of our tourism industry and our great Minnesota quality of life.

This amendment is about FUTURE GENERATIONS.
Things as important as clean water are well worth protecting in our Constitution, and worth creating a permanent funding source for – especially when future generations rely on our actions today.
Acting now to ensure that we properly protect our water, parks, wildlife, and arts and cultural resources for our children and grandchildren is an investment well worth making.

For more information about the the Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment, check out the Vote Yes! website at Click on "FAQ’s" at the bottom of the page for some great information about the amendment.

Thanks in advance for your help in seizing this incredible opportunity to leave a healthy Minnesota to future generations! Please spread the word!

What to do?

Posted by Nate in Politics, Soapbox.
Thursday, September 4th, 2008 at 9:37 am

The RNC here in St. Paul comes to a close today with a final party hosted by Google at my place of employment.  Whoa.  Somehow my invitation was lost in the mail, but it’s cool – I’ve got other plans tonight.

Ironically, being this close to the RNC and watching their speeches on the public TV channel has gotten me more riled up than the whole DNC.  I just can’t get over my jaw-dropping disbelief as I see these people rise from their seats again and again, cheering for the most blatant, hateful, destructive lies and plain old mean-spirited attacks.  Their massive disconnect from reality, their permeating sense of self-importance and holier-than-thou attitudes just make me crazy… and sick.  Because these people aren’t going to stay home on November 4th, and they’re not going to stop trying to spread their bile to anyone who will listen.

So what’s it gonna take?  I’m finally realizing that I live in a protected political bubble, surrounded by like-minded people, and there are actually citizens out there who are barely aware of who the two candidates are – let alone the first thing about their policies.  And it doesn’t help when Palin repeats her brazen lie about saying "thanks, but no thanks" on the bridge.  No fool, she knows 30 million people heard that line and only a fraction will do the homework to realize she’s lying — the swooning media certainly won’t call her out on it.

Is there a way to reach these people?  I’m writing off those who’ve already made up their mind – it’s not going to change.  But if there are really people with no idea who they’re going to vote for, how can they be convinced?  And who the hell ARE they???  Anyone?

Meanwhile the big brains at the Obama campaign think they know who they are and what to do to convince them, so go give them some love.  And by "love" I mean "money".  And by "some" I mean "lots".  Seriously.


The Story of Stuff

Posted by Nate in Consumers, Ideas, Politics.
Tuesday, March 4th, 2008 at 11:42 am

So…  I fully intend to write a nice post about our recent trip to Colorado (awesome!!), but in the meantime:

Watch this.

Super Tuesday

Posted by Nate in Politics, Soapbox.
Friday, February 1st, 2008 at 11:02 am

I recently rediscovered an old favorite band, Enter the Haggis, and particularly their free-to-stream-online album Soapbox Heroes.  (I’ll wait for you to open that in another tab and start listening.)

Their fiddler, Brian Buchanan, says regarding the title, "Soapbox Heroes refers to all the millions of people who make the mistake of thinking that holding a strong opinion about something is as good as doing something about it.  …. Apparently it’s hard to reach a ballot box from a soapbox." (Referring to voter turnout in the US and Canada.)

Now, I know that the regular readers of this blog have very strong opinions – in fact, probably well to the left of the two Democratic candidates remaining…  What’s a progressive to do?  Luckily, Chris Hayes has written the progressive argument for Barack Obama.  If there are any undecided voters out there, please give it a read – I think it’s the best argument I’ve come across.  (Also check out his endorsement by XKCD for another view.)

I hope this is preaching to the choir, but don’t miss your chance to go from soapbox to ballot box.  Super Tuesday, baby!

DST = big fat waste

Posted by Nate in Ideas, Politics.
Wednesday, April 4th, 2007 at 10:40 am

Turns out — predictably — that the energy conserving plan to expand daylight saving time has fallen flat: power companies are reporting no measurable change in consumption.  It seems tempting to chalk this up to a "good try", but all signs point to congress knowing it wouldn’t conserve energy — Australia had tried a similar scheme and got no results — but passing it anyway for economic reasons.  Apparently sporting goods stores and convenience stores both benefit from lighter evenings, and via wikipedia I read "both Idaho senators voted to extend DST on the basis of fast-food restaurants selling more French fries made from Idaho potatoes."  Hmm.

daylight-saving-time.jpgNot only that, but personally this has been a big hassle for me: I had to hand patch all our servers at work so their internal clocks would get the correct time.  And I’m just one guy with a few servers – the total estimated cost of the change is $500 million up to $1 billion!!

Wow.  Way to save the daylight, guys.  There’s an energy crisis, look busy!

Gas tax

Posted by Nate in Bike Commuting, Politics.
Wednesday, April 12th, 2006 at 1:31 pm

[ Because I’ve started biking to work, I "get to" write this post. So there. ]

You heard it from the man, we’re "addicted to oil." A lot of people are suggesting a gas tax as a way to reduce our oil consumption – if it costs more, they reason, people will drive less, take public transportation, or buy a more fuel-efficient vehicle.

But will they? Gas prices here are up around 50 cents from a year ago, and while I can’t find any figures right now to back this up my hunch is that no one is changing their driving habits. Sure, some people are buying hybrids (if they can afford them), but most people (K and I) have just been sucking up the increase. How long can that go on? What kind of tax are we talking about to get people to actually drive less? Is $3/gal the magic threshold? Are people ok with paying this much for now because they think – like last year – it will fall back to a more "reasonable" level? And then what will people do once gas finally reaches that "too much" number? The public transportation in most cities simply will not cut it in the form it exists today. Am I really asking everyone to ride a bike every day?

No. Not yet, anyway… In the meantime I do think there should be some sort of new gas tax, but not without protections to make sure it’s not a regressive tax. At the minimum it should be offset by tax deductions for low to mid income earners. The rest of the revenue should be put into 1. new public transportation infrastucture (not just more roads for more cars), 2. campaigns for alternative transportation, and 3. increased tax breaks for purchases of super fuel-efficent vehicles. Those are all Good Things. Oh yeah, and we should also increase (by a lot) the mandatory fuel efficiency ratings for new vehicles – hopefully #3 will help with that.

So I’m stopping short (for now) of telling everyone to ride their bike all the time, but I think I’ll have enough "get to" points built up by next year if I bike through the winter. So there.

[ …The bike ride in today was wonderful: spring is everywhere, things are blooming, the temperature is fantastic, I arrive at work with my brain engaged and awake, I’m getting exercise and saving money. Awesome. ]

Minneapolis Observer

Posted by Nate in Neighborhood, Politics.
Thursday, April 6th, 2006 at 10:42 pm

The Twin Cities are blessed with several above-average news outlets, among whose number I am not going to count either the Pioneer Press or the Star Tribune. While they serve their purpose on some levels, they are utterly unattractive to me as news sources simply because they’re trying too hard to get readers. They, like almost all newspapers in recent years, are scrambling to adapt to the huge changes brought on by the web, and just Don’t. Get. It. It’s a desperate race for the last paying subscriber, and they’re all betting he only likes sensational non-news. (and a ton of ads)

So where’s a discriminating news junkie to turn? The internets, obviously. More specifically, the Minneapolis Observer. They’d been on my radar for a while, but lately have just been astounding in their coverage of local politics, theatre, issues, everything. I would say they’re "scooping" the big boys, but as I said above, the big boys aren’t even trying. So check out their about us page, start reading their stories, and if you like what you see – send them some love.

In our own local news, we just got 2" of rain dumped on us in just a few hours! Karen’s been talking about setting up a rain garden – watching the water pool in our lawn from roof runoff made me think maybe we should… If we can just make it doggie-proof.